Parappa takes the Mic: Flash over Substance Revisited

Month two of 2018 & I was doing some reminiscing and reflecting on previous years. It started hot off the heels of Super Bowl LII, so it seemed appropriate to revisit an old discussion.

Back then, I equated the "flash" to offense & "substance" to defense and although I can add many layers into that thesis, we got ourselves a player vs. spectator matchup here. The EVO lineup announcement, fallout, DBFZ aftermath, E-Sports vs. FGC and everything in between from March & April just ripened this topic for prime pickings. This time around, it’s not so open-ended, but I gots to talk, I gotta tell what I feel.

Before I put the ball in play, there are some ground rules I have to lay down so that the sphere doesn't get spun a certain way. This one goes out to the bums on the sideline… with the loudest voice to drown everyone & anyone with constructive input. Don’t get this twisted; this is entirely separate from the millions of fans with a mind of their own that are passionate, integral cogs to the community. Actual viewers can sit back and enjoy the matches. True spectators are students of the game & understand their responsibility to it; going so far as to know the ins & outs better than the talented players they watch. No sir, these bums even give “Casuals” a bad name. They feel themselves in excess on their ‘rights’ as a consumer, but don’t know jack shit about how the product runs. You all know the type loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. I suppose a more proper term would be ‘hecklers’ or ‘trolls’, but I prefer scrubs, dumbasses, inferior mentalities and a few other words that would be flipped on me to disregard the true substance of this piece. The time to be sympathetic to this group's grievances has long past; we’re way too deep in the ‘beating a dead horse’ territory. Now is the time to send a cease and desist, in other words… STEP OFF.

This goes out to the so-called players… bitter, battered, seasoned in salt because their reign on top was short like leprechauns. Bruised egos & a closed mind make quick work of ‘OGs’ and ‘top’ players’ reputations to anyone with common sense. The bitter player is actually deadlier than the sideline jobbers, because they’re all sheep in wolf’s clothing. They’re in disguise as players that appear to be savvy about the game, but it’s just as foreign to them as the scrubs that love to talk shit. The rapport they built with the community, a franchise of choice, whatever it is just leads them to be the #1 crybaby for the aforementioned trolls to follow, highlight & cite whenever they spring to spew. This is the bunch that’s supposed to set the example, show us the way through, but end up spouting more nonsense than Ugandan Knuckles. There’s hardly a difference between these two, it’s all one hive mind looking to get appeased by the Powers That Be to get what they want… but what the hell is it that you REALLY want anyway???

A wise friend once told me that people (especially in this scene) look for graphics, presentation or just wanna use their favorite characters. Pondering the notion, I figured out why that is, they simply don’t have the senses for mechanics or concepts so those are the only facets that can stimulate them. This is how games like Skullgirls stays underground and 3rd Strike almost torpedoes the franchise back in the late 90s; it just shows a shallow palate. Again, let me make myself crystal clear… I’m not trivializing the value of a well packaged gaming experience or veteran characters establishing the franchise’s identity. It’s just like offense & defense are both needed for success and to produce a good product, but the real substance is what makes it run. Presentation, aesthetics, plot, casual content all have their merits, but the foundation of the mechanics & engine is what comes through when all things are said and done. Would you buy a sports car with no motor? Didn’t think of it like that before, did you now? You’d be surprised how many people would bite down on a shiny turd.

The more mainstream our games become, the more the fluff will be emphasized and here lies a major part in that ‘E-Sports vs. FGC’ problem. Suits make moves to get a quick buck including, but not limited to, making their products more spectator friendly, such as instituting rules to make things like 3-point shots and more deep passes downfield become the norm. So quick to blow up like nitro & dynamite sticks that they overcomplicate & can’t comprehend something as simple as a catch. As a player, student, coach, fan and all around lifer of the game… hands down my favorite part of all this is getting told by these suits & scrubs what the hell the fundamentals are and politicking around their agenda.

This goes out to you… the victim in all this, the bona-fide player. This isn’t the first time in history you come under attack by these satellites that can only orbit around, but never truly be a part of what we got going here. The fact that they can only see & admire from afar turns some jealous & irritates others because they can’t get it due to their shortcomings and end up blaming the barrier & the hardcore for being inclusive and elitist. I’m here to help you -- the aspiring player -- that’s enjoying your recreation or competition to identify these leeches that are making you out like an uncultured savage that’s bullying & excluding them. If you find any of the following symptoms in a person, you just may have a legitimate scrub.

  • They use extensive vocabulary to magnify the value of aspects outside of actual gameplay with little to no mention of a game’s functions.
  • They push their subjective views as fact or partake in logical fallacies and shun anyone else that says otherwise. Subjective aspects include but not limited to: aesthetics, gameplay mechanics, roster size, characters, franchise & brand superiority/inferiority.
  • They are quick to turn the tables on someone labeling them as a ‘try-hard’, ‘pro-hoe’, ‘pro-bro’ or any other title that would describe a person undermining anyone that doesn’t have high accolades in the community through seniority or tournament placings.
  • They have trouble discriminating unique movesets, homage, and cloning for characters.
  • They show a clear & present bias from criticizing a character, game, development team, balancing and/or community for being a certain way while ignoring its presence elsewhere.
  • They condemn any game getting activity in the scene to death.
  • They belittle the hardcore with jargon.
  • They are quick to judge conventional player tactics and gamesmanship as cheating or unfair in any way.
  • They beg for rebalancing with no effort to learn the nature of the compliant or possible countermeasures.
  • They say asinine shit like ‘spamming block’.

If you see someone displaying any of these signs, they are not your friend and definitely don’t care about your growth. I advise to calmly but firmly remove yourself from the scrub’s sphere of influence post haste.

This goes out to those who choose to use disrespectful views on the hardcore. Be it by omission by the companies or ostracize by mob mentality. The reality is we don’t need an audience to perform excellence and it’s because of the poetry we set into motion you’re around to give us YOUR time of day. Your voice is the loudest & your power is in the business aspect of gaming; I hope you're enjoying your sentence to be eternally co-dependent on companies.

We. Do. Not. F*cking. Need. You.

An audience is only necessary to facilitate the business, the game and the players play anytime anywhere. We keep scenes and games alive for decades after the last developer changes and the last idiot moves onto the next sparkly game. Games with solid engines don’t fade here, a tell-tale sign of a truly bad game unable to sustain competitive play or garner the attention of casual praise doesn’t even see the light of day. Where’s Playstation All-Stars, the older DOA games or the DBZ fighting games (except maybe Super Dragon Ball Z) prior to DBFZ? There’s no staying power with a game with a flimsy foundation, so even if there’s a fill of fun to be had, these games fade into obscurity immediately afterwards. This is something that these scrubs trying to dissuade our progress wouldn’t know if it Falcon Punched them on the nose. It’s so prevalent when, in a world of thumbnail & click baiting, something as dead on accurate as the video below has half as many thumbs down than it has thumbs up.

Being a player of any game is a craft. Like any craft, it requires hard work, dedication, devotion and -- for the great ones -- a set of moral & trade standards. I’m here to tell you the rights, your rights as a legit player. You have the right to love your game and perform to the best of your ability & break your limits. Make your money and get your paper for playing, but don’t become a corporate hand puppet or caricature of yourself or the community. With the suits trying to meet their investment halfway by compromising the product like oh I don’t know, phasing out chip damage or exploiting other mediums like trash TV, they’re tampering with the wrong formula. Yet, they sit there and wonder why they’re getting such a boisterous pushback.

You don’t have to listen to or put up with this shit, these are people against your interest. They can’t understand the core beauty, the inner workings of what makes it run so sweet, so you’ll get belittled to their level because they can’t process it. This is like trainee chefs feeling like they’re getting ‘shown up’ by the master chef for stepping in & extinguishing an out of control flame that they started. A certain level of competence, not skill is expected in a craft, so what the hell are you doing damn near burning down our kitchen that we worked and strived for?! This ignorance to not try, to sabotage, to muscle us out of our own skin, to bastardize our ideals, tell us what works or doesn’t, is not going to fly. This last one goes out to my brothers & sisters... if they can’t understand how glorious it is when you strut your stuff, they never will. Most importantly, if they aren’t here to learn, partake in the action, lay back and enjoy the experience… you have the right to show them to the door and tell them "Don’t let it hit your ass on the way out". Speaking of doors, that’s my exit… peace.

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